We had a great orientation session on Saturday with a new batch of tutors and coaches. I think some people are used to so many people coming out to volunteer, but in my case, I am always amazed. So when I give the “don’t do this, don’t do that” part of my orientation, I feel like a father telling his son, right before a whipping, “This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you.”

Although, when my dad said that, I would suggest that he put the belt down, we go outside and play catch, and reflect on life instead.

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If she ever learns martial arts then I will LEAVE Korea ASAP.

2017 January

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2016 October

I have lost count of the number of times I have almost destroyed TNKR. My latest attempt: Expecting volunteers to make good-faith attempts at fundraising.

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We had an orientation with refugees entering TNKR’s 52nd Language Course. Wow, it was a special session! So much love for TNKR, they can’t wait to meet the volunteer tutors. Read more

I met her shortly after she escaped to South Korea in 2014. It is hard to believe that she started in TNKR at the ABC level. She has now reached the level that she can tease me in English. Her sense of humor is so sharp that I feel like she is bullying me–in English!

In this photo, she was trying to stand on her tippy-toes, so I stood on her foot.

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She is co-director of an organization in Germany helping young immigrants (mainly from Africa and the Middle East) adjust to living there. She is South Korean, she saw the tvN special about us, and says she was so touched by it.

She started crying as she talked about what we are doing and the struggles that her own organization is having. She said she got some good ideas about her own organization after getting advice from us.

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In the last few days, Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) has received donations from fans in four cities in three different countries! Austria, the USA (NYC and Iowa) and South Korea!

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TNKR ambassador Rachel Kim stopped by again for a discussion. We also did an interview in English, which was probably more stressful than fun for her!

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I had a great conversation with TNKR sponsor Renee Cummins. She was a volunteer tutor with TNKR back in 2014 when we were just getting organized. She returned to us last year, holding an incredible Fireworks and Jazz fundraiser for TNKR with hubby David and ably assisted by TNKR board member Karin Hanna  That fundraiser gave us unexpected breathing room.

Renee is now asking how she can help us in other ways!

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TNKR started in March 2013 as “English Matching.” We didn’t have a long term plan, there were virtually no guidelines, we had no office, website, phone. A key moment is when we began to raise the level of expectations. Tutors began to take it more seriously and refugees began referring friends and they began returning. It was about our fifth or sixth session that every refugee had been referred or was returning to the program.

This morning I was visited by a refugee who studied with us shortly before she studied abroad. As she was returning, she contacted me to let me know that she would like to rejoin us!

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